You may recall that I ran this race last year. In my memory is the incredible beauty of the trail, the great organization and aid stations, the fun people I got to run with and the post-race beer on the beach. Fun times
Apparently I forgot about the hills.
Good God. Selective memory is a crazy thing. Because two hours into this race, I was NOT in a happy place.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's start with the happy bluebirds and marshmallows and giggles.
Dear Wife and I drove up Friday. We spent the weekend with a friend who
lives right there in the Marin hills, not 1/2 a mile from the Dipsea
trail. Friday evening we relaxed in Sausalito and listened to an outdoor
jazz concert in the warm summer night. It takes a heat wave to be able
to sit outside on the San Francisco bay at night in shorts. I hydrated
with some wine.
Saturday morning we headed to Stinson
Beach for the race, and found my Loop buddies. Everyone was in high
spirits. It was sunny and beautiful - also very hot! Temps probably
80-90 during the run.
Mr. Bacon, Kynan and Laura, Me, Mild Sauce, and Will (who ran with us in the Portland 50K)
Double Dipsea is an out and back race on the famous Dipsea trail. 6.85
miles each way, with two LARGE hills to climb and hundreds of steps,
including 600+ in a row at one end of the trail. You are pretty much
going up or down the whole way. And it is steep!
race has staggered starts based on age and sex, so as the elder
statesman of the group, I got to start first. The ladies would start two
minutes later, and the other young guys had to wait 14 minutes after I
left. Mr. Bacon was full of trash talk about how soon he would catch me,
so I had a goal. Beat Bacon! I figured that Sauce would catch me at
some point and maybe we could run together like in Portland. With the
heat, I told myself to just run smart and have fun. But who am I
kidding? I wanted to race too.
So off I went!
Soon to be followed by the lovely loop ladies!
And the dapper young loop menfolk.
3 minutes I was walking. It just goes straight up. I ran out of oxygen
quick and was thinking, oh boy, this is going to be a long, hot day. I
ran when I could, walked when my breathing got too hard. Everyone was in
the same boat. The trail was crowded. Lots of "on your left" as people
passed. But it wasn't too crowded to the point of slowing me down.
My Garmin died, so I have no splits, but last year they ranged from 7:xx to 17:xx. I would average 13:05 for the day.
it was fun. The trails were beautiful. People were friendly. And we
were racing! In a sense anyway. And we get to run through this:
after a mile I hear a familiar voice, and Sauce has caught me already!
The girl has some serious mountain goat genes or something because she
can climb like crazy! We stayed together for a while, but I had to walk
more than she could handle, so she slipped away on the long first
uphill. I just kept plugging.
I didn't carry any water. I
trusted the frequent aid stations would be enough for me. A little
risky, but it turned out OK. When I hit the top of the first big hill, I
paused for a hose shower, sponges squeezed over my head, and 4 glasses
of water and ultima. Boy, that felt good! And then we got to run
downhill - even better!
It was like night and day. Now I
was re-energized! I could breathe! And run fast! I flew down the rocky
trail with little regard for safety. So much fun! Ducking under
branches, skipping over roots and rocks. I never fell, and only stubbed a
toe once. Some of the race leaders went by at breakneck pace. I
followed them as they took a detour - I figured they knew where to go -
and I ended up on a fire road which added a tiny bit to the course, but
allowed free running without the trip hazards and people, so I could
really open it up! Probably sub-7 pace for a while. Lots of fun!
after I rejoined the trail I saw Mild Sauce ahead and caught her. So we
got to stay together for a while. But once we bottomed out and started
heading back uphill, she lost me again. And I went back to wishing my
lungs worked better.
At the next peak, DW had stationed
herself to get more photos. First loopster to get there was Mild Sauce,
and she popped out a perfect BP.
Not much later I arrived and saw her mid-walk, so I broke into a trot to make it look good.
Not real happy with what that sponge bath did to my hair...No wonder I burnt the heck out of the top of my head.
Then Laura came by full of life and joy.
And finally the guys, walking. Mr. Bacon is having trouble keeping up with the young'un...
this point it was downhill again. Wheeeeee!!!! And then the 670 steps.
It was still a bit crowded so it was hard to pass, so I just tried not
to fall and kept going. Here is a glimpse of one small portion.
the bottom it is about 50 yards to the turn around and more food and
water. I saw Sauce there as we refueled, but she took off without me. I
guess she wanted to win...I had a couple more drinks and grabbed a Clif
bar for the road (bad idea to try and eat it without water on the
steps). Then it was back up.
I still felt OK. The steps were
starting to make my quads ache, but I was still moving, and passed a few
people. As I went up, I saw Laura and the guys on the way down. Just a
quick greeting, but it was nice to see them. Also nice to see Mr. Bacon
still pretty far back! It seemed like I had plenty of room still, and I
felt good about my chances!
After the steps, the hill
keeps on going, so more walking, but eventually we crested and went by
DW again, so here's some more pics from peak #3.
stopped to get a water bottle from DW, because I was feeling
dehydrated, and some guy offers to take a pic of us. Sure, why not?
more fun downhill, including about 1/2 mile on road where I got to open
it up to sub-7 and fly! But soon it was over, as we bottomed at Muir
Woods and started the long uphill to Cardiac Hill.
part is the most beautiful, with huge redwoods, narrow trail and funky
stone and wood steps. But also the toughest. Very steep and goes on
forever. I was just hiking now, and even had to take stop breaks from
hiking to catch my breath and stretch my lower back which was really
starting to hurt. I really was not enjoying this part because I was
going fast enough so I couldn't breathe well. It was work, and felt like
it. The legs started to shake on some of the steeper steps. And have I
mentioned the heat? It was just shut up and keep going and hope it ends
soon. Which it didn't.
After an endless climb, I finally
heard the noise of the aid station at the top. Oh joy! Much drinking and
sponge bathing, and I was ready to run down to the beach! Nobody caught
me on the up, and I didn't think anyone would catch me on the down! So
off I went at a decent clip. The last two miles were mostly down. The
first part was through a beautiful rainforest, but some VERY steep steps
that I had to slow to a walk for. My legs were not strong enough any
more to absorb running down steps. The added strength needed to maintain
balance was not there. So I was a little disappointed to let my body
force me to slow down, but it wasn't for long. Regular downhill trail
was no problem.
At one point you pop out into the open and see the beach far down below, and it's beautiful.
last mile is fun, because the misery is over (other than a couple
little inclines just to remind you). The breeze off the ocean felt
great. I was booking, just in case someone was sneaking up behind me.
But I managed to finish as 2nd Loopster (Mild Sauce was 3 minutes ahead
at the finish) and snuck under 3 hours with a 2:59:24.
was less than a minute back (so without the 2-minute head start, she
beat me too). Then we all waited for the guys. Finally they came in
together - 15 minutes after I finished. So I beat Bacon even without the
head start. Let the taunting begin.
No, it was all good.
We all celebrated together and went out to the beach for the traditional
beer in the Pacific. My time was 47 seconds slower than last year. But
the heat was a huge factor. My place went from 334 last year to 223.
Last year I beat 47% of the field, and this year I beat 65%, so I'm
happy with that. 35th of 66 in my AG. Lots of fast trail runners out
My legs were toast. It is now 4 days later, and
they still hurt. Quads, calves, back and even arms. Steps and hills
really take it out of you.
Bacon had to get back to his
previously scheduled vacation, but the rest of us hung out and had lunch
and ice cream in Sausalito.
These two do everything together...sharing ice cream.
then they were off and I got to relax for another day with my wife and
our local friend. It was a fabulous day on the trails with some great
people in a beautiful place. Life is good!